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Armstrong: Five characteristics to look for in a draft pick

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Jack Armstrong
6/20/2011 10:51:18 AM
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Thursday night is the big moment for a lot of young players with the NBA Draft taking place this year in New Jersey. General managers, their staffs and coaching staffs go through a lot of research to figure out what they want and what they need to be successful in this endeavor.

Here are five characteristics that teams look for before they decide who they draft. This is good old-fashioned common sense and yet teams miss the boat so often on one or many of these areas. It's simplistic yet it's an inexact science, that's for sure. People business can be complicated sometimes.       

Enjoy the excitement and I'll be back to you late in the week with reaction to the Draft and if/when the Toronto Raptors make a move with their head coaching spot.              

1. Character: Most important. Bottom line, you want a good guy who will take care of business both on and off the court and not be a 'high maintenance' type of person who is more headache than he's worth. Making big money  investment in a guy and he needs to be reliable to make the right decisions on a number of fronts. Too often teams roll the dice in this area and get burned badly. 'Ability without character leads to lots of issues and losses.' Let's not kid ourselves here, the guy doesn't need to be a saint but he just has to make the right calls when he has to.

2. Next-level Athleticism: You need to be able to get your game off and compete against 'men' that are bigger, stronger, faster, quicker and can out-leap you. Can your game translate to the pace and quickness as well as the daily grind/demands of NBA life? Scouts have to be able to project how a player's body will fill out and whether he has the 'goods' to bring it 'every' night.

3. Bring a Significant Skill: You gotta bring something to the table that stands out from the pack and makes a difference. Are you a great rebounder? Great passer? Great shooter? Outstanding defender? Skilled scorer? Shot blocker?  What makes you 'jump out' from the rest of the class? Does the player have a wonderfully gifted overall game where he combines a number of these attributes and is a player vs. a specialist and/or gifted 'talent'.  Remember guys with 'upside' and 'potential'  are a dime a dozen; they get general managers and coaches fired waiting for them to develop into 'players'. Gotta find the guys that can 'play' and produce!

4. Basketball IQ: You've got to be able to figure it all out in the 5-on-5 'team' equation. The fact that you were 'smart' in school doesn't guarantee that you're a 'smart' player and the same goes for a below average student who is brilliant when he plays on the basketball court. Game of action/reaction and decisions have to be made in rapid-fire fashion and they better be the right ones.

5. Coach-ability/Work Ethic: Are you willing to bust your tail and be a 'gym rat'? Will you allow yourself to be coached/disciplined/challenged? Do you seek out the work and the teaching? Will you outwork your teammates and opponents? Are you a 'team' guy? We want 'we/us' guys not 'I/me' guys.  So many variables here but the bottom line is that in order for a player to succeed, he has to have this component and willingness to pay the price and allow himself the structure and discipline.

Kyrie Irving (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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